Another half a year, another dive into my portfolio to see how things are going. I actually check more often; but I have a semi-annual exercise schedule for my portfolio (and lately it feels like my physical exercise schedule, too). Silly me, I got into the habit of checking in and writing it up every June 30th and December 31st. What was I thinking? I was thinking it was a good idea, and it is. The timing has a bit of a conflict on New Years Eve, though. So, here it is, the public disclosure of how I feel about how my stocks and portfolio have done this year. Words are handy, but here are some numbers and simple analyses (as appropriate) for AMSC, AST, GERN, GIG, MVIS, RGSE, and the economy in general.
The short answer: things are better, uneven, a bit worrying, and equally encouraging. That’s an improvement over years where the worries were stronger than the hopes.
The quick background: I can’t take credit for coming up with the semi-annual exercise independently. Peter Lynch suggested something similar, though less regular and less public. I simply built upon his idea that an investor should always be able to concisely describe their investments and why they own them. The details are in the lists of links to various discussion boards (see below). The summary is here. While others have thanked me for my efforts, I do this for my benefit (or humility); it just happens to be worth sharing – evidently.
The markets were relatively flat this year. That’s understandable considering how much they’ve risen from the depths of the Great Recession (or the Second Depression). As the Quantitative Easing has eased, so have the gains. As China has slowed, so have the markets. As oil prices fell, well, gas prices went down; but the commodity wealth of countries also fell, limiting their economies. The good news is the rapid adoption of renewable energy and the simultaneous divestment from fossil fuels. Maybe a bit of the bifurcation in the markets is a new economy stepping in to replace and old economy.
As usual, I expected my portfolio to end 2015 in a much better position that it was in at the end of 2014. Relative to 2014, 2015 looks good. Relative to where my portfolio was before my Triple Whammy, 2015 didn’t make much progress. The stocks bounced around a bit, with ups and downs. The companies, however, are in much better shape. Eventually, that improvement should show up in the stock price, too.
- AMSC may not have received the positive news from the Chinese courts about the intellectual property theft case, but they are receiving new orders. AMSC is up 23% since mid-2015.
- AST is still in early clinical trials for regrowing damaged nerves, but some of the responses have been so encouraging that for a while the stock quadrupled, until a competitor had good news, too. AST is down 14% since mid-2015.
- GERN is also in clinical trials, but it is further along and navigating the FDA and international regulatory agencies on its way to possible approval of a cancer treatment that has great implications – if they can get approval for at least one specific cancer. GERN is up 13% since mid-2015.
- GIG under-promised and over-delivered by saying little, then achieving GAAP profitability. The little company is getting a lot of attention as the year closes. GIG is up 143% since mid-2015.
- MVIS was perceived as over-promising and under-delivering, but even with that, they are making progress, have record revenues and backlog, and continue to maintain an impressive potential – that will be realized within the next few months (which has been the case for several years.) MVIS is down 7% since mid-2015.
- RGSE has managed to somehow stumble in the high-growth, high-demand industry of solar power. The company is worth less than many homes in America. It dropped so far and so fast that even selling now wouldn’t buy me much of anything else. RGSE is down 50% since mid-2015.
My patience has been tested so thoroughly that it has put down its No. 2 pencil and is sitting back to see what happens with the grading. Aside from some minor adjustments, and one fortuitous profit-taking trade, my portfolio remains in a reasonably good position in terms of company progress, which has only begun to show hints of portfolio progress, and which is well-enough positioned that 2016 may be the year when I get to regularly share good news again.
I feel that I am witnessing a race between the advancement and progress of the companies I’ve invested in, and the troubling signs I see in an economy that is at least bifurcated and possibly destabilizing. (Much of the economic news is over on my blog for “news for people who are eager and anxious about the future” (aka PretendingNotToPanic.com). In the best scenario, everything is awesome for my companies and stocks, and the economy. In the worst scenario, everything falls into the Reprise of the Great Recession, or as I call it, the Third Depression. In a bizarre scenario, as the economy trips on itself, some of my stocks provide the economically appealing new solutions to energy, health, and information issues thereby ratcheting up their stock price premiums. It could happen. What’s most likely to happen is something I haven’t listed.
The likelihood of my portfolio doing well has improved. My positions haven’t changed much, and my portfolio continues to hold enough potential to allow me to re-retire, or at least to begin transitioning to something less than a seven day a week work schedule. That’s been the case for years. Patience and a Long Term Buy and Hold strategy remain that classic conundrum of doing the same thing and expecting something different (a delusion) or proving the value of perseverance. Some time between now and the next semi-annual portfolio review, I should know better. In any case, stay tuned as the story continues.
For the details of the stocks, I post the semi-annual review of each of my stocks on various discussion boards. I could post the entire collection here, but 1) it would be very long, 2) the more public the conversation the more valuable it becomes, and 3) reading my posts on those boards introduces you to individuals who have different perspectives, strategies, and experiences. Collectively, those communities are more powerful than large financial institutions because the motivations and incentives are those of similar individual investors rather than that of profit-minded corporations.
Here are the links to the discussion boards I use. Feel free to comment here or there, and to pass along links to others. The bigger the discussion, the better the chance of valuable insights (as long as the trolls and flamers are moderated appropriately.)